And now for something completely different on the iGaming legislative front. Earlier today, Steve Ruddock reported on a bill in New Hampshire that would exempt online gambling under present legislative statutes.
This approach is different from other states in that the bill is not attempting to regulate online poker but rather to allow citizens to play on existing online gambling sites. If passed, this type of law would be a game changer for gambling interests in the United States but does it have a realistic shot of passing?
What This Bill Might Mean to Online Poker Players
New Hampshire’s HB 562 would exempt online gambling as a gambling offence under their criminal code. If passed, the bill would legally open New Hampshire’s borders on January 1, 2018 to anyone wishing to offer online gambling.
What this would mean for online poker players is that they could legally play online poker on any site around the world. Poker operators would not have to be licensed or pay any taxes to the state in order to offer services to their citizens. Should this bill pass, expect some companies to
With that said, chances are that sites like PokerStars would enact some type of geolocation software to verify that a person is in New Hampshire rather than simply taking their word.
However, those that are capable of being verified would be able to play online poker against players around the world. Odds are that New Hampshire would start experiencing a flood of online poker refugees looking to legally make a living at online poker legally.
Time to Rain On Your Online Poker Parade
While this bill sounds promising, there are a few major points that are likely to be stumbling blocks. The first being that the bill simply legalizes but doesn’t regulate online poker. This isn’t much better than what we already have outside of the fact that reputable sites like PokerStars and 888poker would be able to serve NH residents.
Next, since the bill doesn’t regulate the activity, the state does not receive any revenue whatsoever. One of the primary reasons that states consider iGaming regulation is the potential tax benefits. These benefits do not exist under HB 562.
Also, the bill states that legalizing online gambling in this manner “may have an indeterminable impact on lottery and charitable gaming revenue.” Reading between the lines, this means that revenues for both will go down and it is hard to see some lawmakers letting that slide.
Don’t Expect This Bill to Pass – Or Even Go to A Vote
Looking at the bill in its current form, it is difficult to see it passing or even getting to a vote. As Ruddock pointed out, it is hard to see why lawmakers would try and undertake such a bill. There will be a hearing on Tuesday regarding the bill but unless there are drastic changes, meaning changing it to a regulatory bill, it is hard to see lawmakers backing this bill.
A bill that legalizes online gambling without providing a benefit to the state is going to be a near impossible sell. If this was 1996 instead of 2016, maybe something like this would have a chance of passing. Instead, it will likely go down as a novel idea that will quickly be dismissed.